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[187]

The “Hartford

On this page of unwritten history McPherson and Oliver, the New Orleans war-time photographers, have caught the crew of the staunch old “Hartford” as they relaxed after their fiery test. In unconscious picturesqueness grouped about the spar-deck, the men are gossiping or telling over again their versions of the great deeds done aboard the flagship. Some have seized the opportunity for a little plain sewing, while all are interested in the new and unfamiliar process of “having their pictures taken.” The notable thing about the picture is the number of young faces. Only a few of the old salts whose bearded and weather-beaten faces give evidence of service in the old navy still remain. After the great triumph in Mobile Bay, Farragut said of these men: “I have never seen a crew come up like ours. They are ahead of the old set in small arms, and fully equal to them at the great guns. They arrived here a mere lot of boys and young men, and have now fattened up and knocked the nine-inch guns about like twenty-four pounders, to the astonishment of everybody. There was but one man who showed fear and he was allowed to resign. This was the most desperate battle I ever fought since the days of the old ‘Essex.’ ” “It was the anxious night of my life,” wrote Farragut later. The spar-deck shown below recalls another speech. “Don't flinch from that fire, boys! There is a hotter fire for those who don't do their duty!” So shouted Farragut with his ship fast aground and a huge fire-raft held hard against her wooden side by the little Confederate tug “Mosher.” The ship seemed all ablaze and the men, “breathing fire,” were driven from their guns. Farragut, calmly pacing the poop-deck, called out his orders, caring nothing for the rain of shot from Fort St. Philip. The men, inspired by such coolness, leaped to their stations again and soon a shot pierced the boiler of the plucky “Mosher” and sank her.

The men who dared — sailors on the “Hartford” after passing the New Orleans forts

Spar-deck of the “Hartford


 

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